My third project left on Wednesday and was at the Grand Canyon. There are projects on the South Rim, but mine was on the North side which was good as I hadn't been there before. There were two vans of volunteers as there is a lot of work to do, so we all travelled together but once there divided into two crews of 12.
We arrived mid-afternoon and set up camp then drove to some lookout points to see the Canyon. It is huge, so huge that you can never see it all at once and therefore can never actually appreciate how vast and amazing it is. From what I remember from being there before though, I was slightly more impressed this time!
Work started the following morning - our crew was working on the Cliff Spring Trail, a short trail down one of the side canyons. It was well sheltered by a big overhang, and on the other side was an almost sheer cliff face. Unfortunately the shelter meant that it wasn't that warm - I was constantly putting on and taking off my fleece as the temperature dropped a lot if the sun went in or if you didn't move for 10 seconds.
The work for the first couple of days basically involved climbing down the cliff face and getting big rocks which could be taken up and used to line the side of the path. It was very hard, firstly finding the right size and shape rocks, and then getting them up the hill. Some of them required three of us to roll it, and most took about 45 minutes or more to get up. We had to be really careful that they didn't roll back down, either onto our hands, our bodies or anyone else below. Once at the top, the rocks were being set down into the path.
After the first few days this was almost done, so some of us were given a new task of re-soiling another part of the path. This was a bit less difficult, although we had to remove rocks, pine cones and pine needles from the soil which was a bit tedious! On the last two days we moved to a different place to rake another path (seriously, raking it). This smoothed it over and got rid of the pine cones and needles again.
It was a good experience working at the canyon. The National Park trail guys were fun, and we camped close to there HQ where they had a volleyball court and basketball for our evening's entertainment. There was also a shop nearby so we could get some well-needed treats! The campground itself had porterloos this time - one step up from the nothingness of Zion, and one down from the flushing toilets in Bryce. I still think I prefer the Zion campsite, in the middle of nowhere. It seems like I've had it easy since then, with toilets, shops, showers etc (I did not take a shower at the Grand Canyon even though they were available).
After we'd finished the project at G.C. we headed back to Flagstaff for the usual Wednesday night shenanigans, which this time was a BBQ dinner and lots of very cheap drinks. Well deserved I think after raking pine needles up for hours on end!
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